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How are we suppose to obtain knowledge?

  1. Jan 22, 2007 #1
    Sometimes when we obtain knowledge from only one source, we become ignorant. Ex. Hardcore religious Fundamentalist. And when we learn knowledge by memorizing instead of understanding, it only gives us materialistic profit but no mental benefit.(getting an A+ in class) But how do we know we completely understand something. Whenever I feel I have fully understand something(it can be ANYTHING) I end up understanding it deeper as time goes on. The only times I have understood something completely is when I came up w/ it on my own. So I basically, I had to "reinvent the wheel". However, this method is not very practical. Therefore, how should we obtain knowledge?

    Is reading new things a good idea? It does gives us creativity but takes away our originality. For ininstance, since a long time, we havn't had any inventions, only upgrades(on the most part). Ex. We still use the same engine in the car, the same design, etc.

    Whenever I meditate; try to come up something totally by myself, it happens to be really good but I don't get any practical benefit from it. I guess this era is not for ingeniuses but rather for manipulative smart guys.(Bill Gates):grumpy:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2007 #2


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    I would probably say that knowledge informs decisions, so I would say you have perfect understanding when you can make perfect decisions.

    Reading new things is a very good idea because we tend to think of things in a static way but everything changes, and by reading new things one is constantly reminded that things change and being reminded of that can really help. I think it also helps to approach the subject somewhat stoically, so that one is not overly attached to the way things are at present.

    Part of being knowledgable is knowing that things change and of course knowing what constraints govern that change. I think one can only come to know those constraints by having learned from diverse situations. Diversity is a good catalyst to knowledge.
  4. Jan 23, 2007 #3
    Reminders are not neccesary when one meditates. I am already accustomed to change, attachment, etc. Besides those things, does knowledge help us in any other way?(it gives us new ideas but we are missing the fundamentals on those ideas so we never really understand it) It is like sitting in a class of calculus and you are confused about how fractions work. This is why so many people are closed minded.
  5. Jan 25, 2007 #4
    The method I have found is to whenever we find something, we should jsut question to the max so we get to its funda and then take it from there, basically, taking new info. in very slowly so we can truely grasp it. I believe today's educational system is sort of flawed. B/c the honors and AP classes are only made for people who can take the pace, but dumb people take it too, and ace the class by alternatiev methods. Ofcourse, there are hard working exceptions, I don't think we can find a lot of that. What do you guys think?
  6. Jan 25, 2007 #5


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    I hope you will enlighten us to these 'fractions'.
  7. Jan 25, 2007 #6

    Reading new things does not take away from your originality You need to know what others have already created in order to use your creativity to solve a problem that others have yet to solve. This is one of the largest difficulties in science and is largely why one studied in University. Not only must you know the laws and principles of, say physics, but you must also know what is already known, so that you don't waste your time solving a redundant problem.

    This is why new discoveries are in either extremely niche areas, or in areas that new technologies have enabled us to explore what was once inexplorable.

    The worst thing you can do is to deny reading something because it might invalidate a idea you had that you thought was original. If your ego repulses such challenges to your originality, you will convince yourself how clever you are when everyone else already knows exactly what you thought you were so clever to discover.
  8. Jan 26, 2007 #7
    I agree. 100% of all the greatest/most original scientists and artists in history spend a lot of time studying the works of those that came before them. Even the most original musicians have their influences and spend a lot of their free time listening to other people's music.

    I don't agree with the no new inventions thing... well I do and I don't in the sense that those "new inventions" that came in the past weren't completely original either. they were upgrades too, if you think about it, just like what we have today... we just tend to forget their origins.

    For example the computer. It started out as literally a computing machine... the original computer could be seen as an elaborate electronic abacus :) . and the systems used in those "original" computers were combinations of pre-existing technological principles, re-aranged in an original way in order to give them a new function.

    The same could be said of the car. It combined ideas that existed long before it into a single machine. no part of that first car was an absolutely original idea: not the engine, not the wheel, not the seats... they were all improvements of pre-existing technologies, rearranged to form a new machine.
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